The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

MATA HARI (1985) * ½

Mata Hari is the kind of movie I’d watch when I was ten years old on Skinamax at 1:45 AM with the sound turned down low so it wouldn’t wake my parents up.  Sadly, to fully enjoy this movie, it probably would’ve been a lot better if I was still ten years old and/or never known the touch of a woman.  


The premise is ideal for a Skinamax classic:  Sylvia Kristel, Emmanuelle herself, stars as Mata Hari, the world famous globe trotting and bed hopping spy.  Even though Kristel was well past her prime by the time she made this, her body still wasn’t too shabby and she gets naked on several occasions during the film.   


The problem isn’t an over the hill Kristel; it’s the direction of Curtis (Ruby) Harrington.  Apparently Harrington was under the impression that the audience actually wanted to see a legitimate movie based on the life of Mata Hari and not a rehashed version of Emmanuelle that you’d catch at 1:45 AM on Skinamax while your parents were asleep.  Harrington loads this cinematic piñata with too many fucking Masterpiece Theater scenes of costume drama mamas going on about who knows what and not enough softcore boning. 


The movie simply has too much plot to qualify it as a Skinamax classic.  The screenwriting is as sloppy as Hell as we’re never quite sure WHO Mata’s spying for and why.  The plot is confusing enough but when all the locations look exactly the same, it’s hard to tell where the heck the action is taking place.  Kristel’s “spying” ability is equally dubious.  Consider the scene where she takes five minutes to decode a “top secret” message, then reads it OUT LOUD!  Some spy she was. 


But you’re not watching this flick to see her spying prowess; you’re watching it to see Sylvia knock the boots.  In that respect, Mata Hari marginally succeeds.  She’s naked a lot in this flick, but most of her sex scenes are too brief and aren’t very titillating.  There is ONE classic scene that almost makes this flick worth recommending and that’s the topless swordfight scene.  Yes, there is a scene in this movie where Kristel and another hussy take their tops off and duel.  Yes, it’s pretty inventive and one of a kind.  (I’ve seen dozens of topless kickboxing scenes in a movie but never topless swordfighting.)  Unfortunately the fight was choreographed by a chimpanzee with multiple scoliosis and was edited by a blind aardvark so don’t expect it to be remotely rousing or arousing. 


It’s no Emmanuelle, Joys of a Woman, but if you’re in the mood for a crappy episode of Masterpiece Theater with a few titties in it, by all means, this is the flick for you.     

Tags: exploitation, m

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